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Oliver!
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Oliver! More at IMDbPro »

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53 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Pure movie magic!

Author: dtucker86 from Germany
28 November 2003

Its strange that the film that won the best picture Oscar at the 1968 Academy Awards was a film made in England, but if ever a movie deserved that honor, I think it is Oliver. This movie is a true classic that should be on every best picture list and given a place of honor at The American Film Institute. Movie musicals died out a long time ago and it is a shame because this is the best movie musical I have ever seen. Usually movie musicals are slipshod with some great numbers mixed in with some poor ones. Oliver does the impossible, because every number and every dance in this film hits the bullseye! From "Food Glorious Food" to "Consider Yourself" to "Who Will Buy This Wonderful Morning". Ron Moody, Shani Wallace (as Nancy) and Mark Lester as Oliver all give outstanding performances. Mark Lester was at one time the most famous child actor in the entire world. He was the Ricky Schroder of his day or the MacAuley Culkin of his day (I'll bet he wishes he could have made the kind of money they did!). Mark Lester is now a doctor in England and I wrote him a couple e-mails and he talked about Oliver and what a fine experience it was making the film. Shani Wallace was a fine English actress who never got the credit she deserved. She was so good as the sweet, loving Nancy who took a shine to little Oliver and gave her life saving him (her murder scene still makes me shiver, even Charles Dickens said that bothered him when he wrote it!). Doctor Lester wrote me that Shani Wallace was like a big sister to him and it shows on the screen. Ron Moody is delightfully hammy as Fagin. He sort of reminds me of Charles Laughton the way he carries the part to its ludicrous extreme but you savor it along with him. Charles Dickens was so good at portraying the poverty and horrible living conditions of his time and this film shows that especially in the workhouse. Children really lived under those conditions and it is horrifying. The scene that got me is where they are being served horrible gruel and are walking by the dining room where Mister Bumble and his henchmen are dining like kings! That really made me angry. Anyhow, Oliver is a wonderful film that would stand up to any film today and is a good viewing experience for the whole family. It will leave you with a happy heart and a lump in your throat and what more could you ask for?

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44 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

A true work of art...excellent songs, amazing performances...

Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
28 May 2001

"Oliver!" is a vast improvement over the marvelous Broadway stage version, opening up the scenes with the ability to expand the range of the material and still remain faithful to the Dickens story. Brimming with unforgettable songs and dances (that choreography by Onna White is timeless), it is so well cast--down to the smallest roles--and so faithful to the spirit of Dickens' work that you can no longer imagine that classic without the songs.

Fagin is played to perfection by Ron Moody. His "You Gotta Pick A Pocket Or Two" is just one of the highlights incorporating clever lyrics and great choreography. The boys who kidnap Oliver are a rowdy lot, looking every bit the ruffians they're supposed to be. The best of the lot is Jack Wild's Artful Dodger, leading the gang in "Consider Yourself".

But not all is light and cheery. The darker aspects of the story are sometimes a little too graphic for my taste, although all of the performances are extremely well played, including Oliver Reed as Bill Sykes. The scenes involving his demise are so melodramatic they seem to belong to another film.

Whatever the faults may be, including a rather extended running time, there is scarcely a dull moment. With songs like "Who Will Buy?" and "Where Is Love?" -- not to mention "Food, Glorious Food" -- you will find yourself falling under the spell of this great musical. Highly recommended and fully deserving of its Best Picture Oscar.

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43 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

This is proof that British film studios of the 1960's could provide high quality productions

9/10
Author: DennisJOBrien from Virginia, United States
11 June 2005

I was lucky to see "Oliver!" in 1968 on a big cinema screen in Boston when I was a young teenager. Later, during the summer of 1969, I was pleased to see this film was still playing at a prominent cinema in Leicester Square, London, after it had won the Academy Award for Best Picture of the previous year.

Th success of "Oliver!" on both the stage and screen reminded me that not all talent begins on Broadway and ends in Hollywood. This legendary story by Charles Dickens, which is part of the literary heritage of all English-speaking people, was admirably brought to the London stage by Lionel Bart of Great Britain. His charming musical then became a hit in New York and throughout the world. The film adaptation was made in England during the summer of 1967 and then released in 1968. The sets and musical numbers are mind boggling. The song "Who Will Buy?" required hundreds of actors and the British film director truly deserved his Oscar for putting it all together in a seamless manner. Some Canadian and American talent is also part of this wonderful production, but mostly it is a tribute to the fine craftsmanship of the British film studios, such as Shepperton. Good show! Other film studios at Elstree, Boreham Wood, Bray, Denham, and Ealing have also given the world many films to treasure over the years.

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38 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

First in a long line

7/10
Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
11 May 1999

This film introduced me to musicals at the age of 5 or 6, starting a trend which has lasted for over two decades since - it remains my favourite for a lot of reasons - the great treatment of Dickens' admittedly complicated book; memorable characters who do not sing, alongside those who do (stellar performances from everyone); fun and frolics, and a few heartbreaking moments; and Lionel Bart's tremendous score. The 'Who Will Buy' sequence is one of the best ever. One to watch and cherish and remember just how good musical films used to be.

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful!

10/10
Author: BunnyPhobic from London, England
2 January 2005

I took part in a little mini production of this when I was a bout 8 at school and my mum bought the video for me. I've loved it ever since!! When I was younger, it was the songs and spectacular dance sequences that I enjoyed but since I've watched it when I got older, I appreciate more the fantastic acting and character portrayal. Oliver Reed and Ron Moody were brilliant. I can't imagine anyone else playing Bill Sykes or Fagin. Shani Wallis' Nancy if the best character for me. She put up with so much for those boys, I think she's such a strong character and her final scene when... Well, you know... Always makes me cry! Best musical in my opinion of all time. It's lasted all this time, it will live on for many more years to come! 11/10!!

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23 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A truly wonderful musical for the whole family.

Author: Greg Bland from Brisbane, Australia
25 October 1998

"Oliver!" brings to the screen a worthy adaption of Lionel Bart's Broadway musical of the sixties. The combination of a superb cast, wonderful music and breathtaking choreography mean that the film loses nothing in its translation from the stage. To this day it remains one of the stand-out musical adaptions in a dwindling field.

Although the conservative Dickens fanatics may thumb their noses at various liberties taken on the original plot of "Oliver Twist", they should observe that "Oliver!" has recreated most of the spirit intended by Dickens. While primarily a musical comedy, "Oliver!" certainly has a dark undercurrent, thanks to the skillful direction of Carol Reed and the sinister acting of Oliver Reed (playing Bill Sikes). Dickens was essentially a talented satirist, who constructed his characters to convey a moralistic view on Victorian society. "Oliver!" conveys much of the sadness and desperation of the original novel.

For anyone not acquainted with the famous storyline, the film treats of a young orphan, Oliver Twist, and follows his journey from a paupers' workhouse to the rough-and-tumble city life of London. He is spotted and introduced into a gang of thieves, led by the crafty and cunning Fagin. What follows for Oliver is an introduction to the art of picking pockets; the methods of justice dispened by Mr Fang the magistrate; the cruelty of Bill Sikes the notorious thief, and the compassion of Nancy, Bill's mate; the kindness of Mr and Mrs Brownlow. Such an adventure for such a small boy!

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why this Oscar-winning film is such a success. On one hand there is the incredible performances of a gifted cast - Ron Moody being nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Fagin, and young Jack Wild's mature performance as the Artful Dodger. Mark Lester plays Oliver, and depicts all the elements of innocence and vulnerability as could be imagined in the young boy. Harry Secombe backs up the cast as the beadle, Mr Bumble.

Perhaps the best aspect of the film though is the music itself. Lionel Bart has done a masterful job in writing the original score, and you may expect to find yourself singing the songs for weeks after watching "Oliver!". Here are the evergreens, "Reviewing the Situation", "You've Got to Pick a Pocket Or Two", "Who Will Buy", and the beautiful and touching "Where is Love?". The list of classic tunes goes on and on, and if nothing else, young people today should watch the film purely for its educational value - to be introduced to the sweet music of yesteryear, and to see that a film's qualities extend beyond the realms of special effects.

"Oliver!" will rightfully go down as a classic film of its time, and with any luck will keep its place as a family favourite, for years to come. Its warmth and familiar music make it a must-see.

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19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Broadway to Hollywood transition...SUCCESS!!!

9/10
Author: moviemanMA from Massachusetts
1 July 2005

Oliver! the musical is a favorite of mine. The music, the characters, the story. It all just seems perfect. In this rendition of the timeless classic novel turned stage musical, director Carol Reed brings the Broadway hit to life on the movie screen.

The transition from musical to movie musical is not an easy one. You have to have the right voices, the right set, the right script, and the right play. All signs point to yes for this play. It almost appears that it was written for the screen!

Our story takes place in jolly old England where a boy named Oliver manages to work his way out of the orphanage. He winds his way through the country to London where he meets up with a group of juvenile delinquents, headed by Dodger, the smart talking, quick handed pick-pocket. The leader of this gang is named Fagin, an older fellow who sells all the stolen goods.

But all is not well in London town when Bill Sykes played by Oliver Reed and his loving girlfriend Nancy get tangled up with Oliver, Fagin and his young troops, and the law. What ensues is a marvelous tale of love, affection, and great musical numbers.

Whether or not you like musicals or not, one listen to these tunes and you will be humming them all day long. Oliver! is a triumph on and off the stage and is a timeless work of art.

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21 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

One of the best musicals ever!

Author: velartjim (velartjim@prodigy.net.mx) from León, Mexico
25 February 2001

Before watching the movie I read the original novel, and I was not disappointed at all about the adaptation. The movie is really faithful to the spirit of Dickens narrative, but adds a new dimension to it by means of great music and songs.

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

My brief review of the film

Author: sol- from Perth, Australia
19 February 2005

A high-spirited, lively version of the well-known story, the film manages to fit in songs and dances without subtracting from the deeper issues in Dickens' novel. The times are depicted vividly well, with excellent sets and costumes, and the film works as both surface entertainment for the young generation, and as a drama with deeper ideas behind it for the more adult viewer. As a musical, the story is not as potent as otherwise - if you compare it to David Lean's version for example - but yet the film explains parts of the story better than Lean's version did. It is not a perfect film as such, with some dances routines seeming pointless and a length that does become a tad annoying, but it is such a brilliant realisation of Dickens, and it is so well done, that it is hard not to think highly of the film. Ron Moody especially is very good: perfect as Fagin in an Oscar nominated role.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

I consider Oliver! the movie to be my mate.

8/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
5 November 2009

Charles Dickens famous novel of an orphan boy, Oliver Twist, who escapes from his poor life to seek his fame and fortune in London, is adapted as a glossy musical.

Who would have thought that a story from the brilliant Dickens could be so sweet and endearing? So it be with Carol Reed's {Best Director Winner} unforgettable 1968 Best Picture Winner. Yes it's some way away from the essence of the source, those in need of that should be seeking out David Lean's fabulous 1948 version, but with an array of wonderful tunes and choreography, this Oliver is a treat for all the family. The cast are uniformly strong, notably Ron Moody {Fagin}, Oliver Reed {who as Bill Sykes is probably playing himself!}, Mark Lester {Oliver} and the fabulous Jack Wild {The Artful Dodger}. While Lionel Bart's songs are as timeless as they are engaging.

The 60s was a tough decade for cinematic musicals, with many of them turning out to be bloated exercises in tedium. But Oliver! is one of the shining lights in the genre, a true uplifter guaranteed to have the feet a tapping and the smile firmly implanted on ones face. So if you have yet to see and be charmed by it? Come on in, join our number and consider yourself one of us. 8/10

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